• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Young Nigerians took a beating from covid but some built resilience

The Personal Case to #GetInvolved

Young Nigerians took some hard knocks from the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic as economies slowed; companies struggled with shrinking revenue and jobs evaporated. But some young Nigerians built resilience through it all.

A recent report by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) showed that the economic crisis driven by Covid-19 could lead to 39 million Nigerians falling into unemployment.

As much as half of Nigeria’s working-age population consists of young people aged 15 to 34 years. Many young people have spoken about the challenges of finding employment due to firms and organisations halting their recruitment and others have shared that they have lost their jobs due to school and office closures.

In the Next Generation Nigeria report published by the British Council, 28 young Nigerians across the country were recruited to record a video response detailing how the pandemic has affected them and their community, their approach to overcoming the pandemic, and the future risks the pandemic poses.

The video diaries provided an opportunity for young Nigerians to express how their attitude has changed in response to the pandemic. The diaries showed that young people across the country have limited expectations of government support, and instead, strive to be self-sufficient or seek support from their peers.

“These days we don’t just sit and look up to the government to do everything. We work, we find a way to survive ourselves and that is the Nigerian spirit. Nigerian youths, we are strong,” a female participant in Owerri, Imo State (urban) said.

In response to the adversity, they faced as a result of the pandemic, the Nigerian youth response to Covid-19 was characterised by resilience and resourcefulness, manifest in acts of looking for sustainable work and new business opportunities within the online space.

Young Nigerians demonstrated an understanding that business structures which relied uniquely on offline mechanisms struggled to adapt to the lockdown. Young Nigerians, therefore, chose to pursue online business ventures, with many succeeding in this respect.

E-commerce and services were viewed as effective and necessary ventures to survive the pandemic.

“If you can market your sales online, there is a higher chance that you are going to make money than if you are trying to act based on [the fact that Covid-19] will soon end. What if it never really ends?” Female, Ibadan, Oyo State (urban) said.

Many young Nigerians believed that their peers should use the time to develop their skillsets, specifically in a tech-focused domain, which potential employers will be seeking. This is because they believed that this will enable them to better mitigate the risks in employment and job security posed by the pandemic.

A less positive outlook conveyed by some young Nigerians concerned the need to use savings to support themselves and spending on day-to-day purchases, instead of the ambitious endeavours they had planned. This illustrates the long-term impact that the pandemic will have on young people – even upon those with savings who are relatively more economically stable in Nigeria.

“The savings I made to sponsor myself for the master’s programme, I’ve been using it to sustain myself during the crisis, so it has affected my educational plan because I planned [to use it] for my MSc.,” Male, Ngbalang, Adamawa State, said.

The video diaries illuminated what mattered to young Nigerians and how, in the face of the pandemic, these issues have become pronounced. Furthermore, the diaries brought out core values in young Nigerians, such as benevolence and ambition.